Drop the attitude: 8 ways mature workers need to mind their job search manners

Mature Worker2An article I came across posted in Quintessential Careers from Susan Jepson, Director of National Senior Networks, reminds us that jobseekers must maintain a positive attitude, even mature workers.

In her article, Mature Job-Seekers: Are You Practicing Reverse Age Discrimination in Your Job Hunt?, Susan’s first assertion is that mature workers must not come across as having an attitude.

“Without intending to, or without knowing it, mature workers can come across as arrogant, condescending; that behavior can invite rejection,” she writes.

One’s negative attitude can show itself in many of a mature workers mannerisms. Demonstrations of your mannerisms precedes any opportunity to appear before an employer and can prevent you from getting an interview. Below are some signs of a negative attitude. These are things you should keep in mind when going out in public.

Arrogance impresses no one. You may have been outstanding at what you did, and you may be outstanding in the future, but keep in mind that dipomacy is your best card at this time. You will be relying on many people to help you in your job search, and most people don’t appreciate being looked down upon.

Apparel is one aspect of your attitude. During the summer it’s hot out there, but please refrain from wearing gym shorts and tee-shirts with Budweiser advertisements. At all times make sure you are well-groomed and presentable—you never know when a potential employer might be just around the corner.

Your countenance is more noticeable than you think. I’ve witnessed people who walk into the career center looking as if they’d like to strike anyone in their path. Their mouth looks like it was chiseled into a constant frown. There seems to be hatred in their eyes. This can be intimidating, let alone off-putting.

Be outgoing…or at least fake it. For you introverts (I can relate), try to use every opportunity to network. Your most vital job search technique must include networking. It’s not as hard as it appears. You don’t have to see networking as only going to arranged events. It’s a daily thing and that’s why you have to be on your game every day. One jobseeker I know told me he was meeting someone for lunch, and he was dreading it. Nonetheless, he met the person for lunch. He faked it.

Mind your manners. “Thank you,” “it was great seeing you,” “hope your day is wonderful,” etc., go a long way. These are things we learned in Kindergarten, yet not all of us practice the niceties as much as we should. I am often thanked by customers after a workshop or in an e-mail. They’re the ones who do the hard work, and their hard work will result in a job.

Accept advice. I personally appreciate it when people tell me what I’ve done wrong, or what would work better…as long as it’s constructive criticism. This is another part of our persona that people notice. Good, honest advice delivered in a polite manner is priceless.

Don’t appear desperate and despondent. Most people want to help you, but if you seem like you are giving up the battle, your peers, career advisors, and people employed in your industry, will doubt your ability to succeed at your next job. “Don’t let ‘em see you sweat.”

Why does this matter?

Simply, your job search is ongoing. You are being judged, regardless of your age, wherever you go. The man or woman who has the authority to hire you, may be standing behind you in the checkout line. Those who try to help you take into account the aforementioned aspects of your overall attitude. If given the choice to recommend someone for a position, anyone is likely to back the person who has their attitude in check.

As I’ve said, maintaining a pleasant demeanor and appearing positive is difficult under an extremely stressful situation like being unemployed; but I’ll guarantee you that a negative approach to conquering unemployment will not lead to quick employment. Be mindful at all times how you appear to others.

Photo: Flickr.com, Rick Croyle

5 ways the introvert succeeds in the job search

IntrovertExtravert

Do you know an introvert who is an active listener and can also make small talk with the best of them; is enthusiastic about writing and also enjoys speaking in public; and thinks before he acts, yet takes well-timed risks?

This person combines the best of his introvert and extravert traits. When it comes to the job search, this is exactly what the introvert does in order to succeed.  Adopting traits of both dichotomies may be difficult, awkward, and even exhausting; but he must maintain his focus on the endgame.

Here are five crucial areas of the job search and how the introvert combines both traits to succeed in the job search.

1. Being proactive. The introvert is reflective… focused…when it comes to the job search, but thinking too much about the proper ways to make that call to a desired employer can hinder her efforts. Making personal contact can delay the inevitable if she’s unwilling to get outside her comfort zone.

The extravert can teach the introvert a lesson on taking action. She will do her sleuthing (LinkedIn, Google, or a connection within a company) for a hiring manager’s contact info and  pick up the phone to inquire about openings or secure an informational meeting.

Note: A blend of strategic planning and taking the necessary action isthe solution for success. To act without thinking can blow the deal and may cause damage to the introvert’s reputation.

2. Networking. The introvert listens to a potential connection, asks insightful question, and actually retains the other networker’s answers. But have you ever encountered an awkward moment when you’re standing with someone and he’s not saying a word, just staring into his glass of wine? The silence is so loud that you can hear a pin drop.

This is when the extravert’s ability to engage in small talk must be emulated by the introvert to save the day. The extravert will fire up the conversation with talk of current events (not religion or politics), inquiries about her new friend’s family, occupation, or sports, etc.

Note: The introvert makes networking enjoyable because of her ability to listen and engage in small talk. As well, she can utilize her introvert nature by talking in depth.

3. Marketing material. Because the introvert prefers written communications, writing résumés and cover letters should come easy to him. Research is essential in understanding employers’ needs and then describing how he can satisfy those needs. This is right up the introvert’s alley. How the introvert distributes his written material determines the success in getting it to the person that counts.

The introvert can again benefit from the extravert who will use his outgoing nature to distribute a résumé and cover letter in person, at an informational meeting or persuading the right person to hand them to the hiring manager. He will not spend hours a day blasting his written communications into the dark void known as the job boards.

Note: The introvert must ensure that his résumés and cover letters demonstrate value; effective distribution is not enough. Introverts must take appropriate time to complete his marketing materials, not too long.

4. Following up. The introvert understands the importance of following up after a networking event or meeting someone for coffee, and will send an email or even a thank-you card. The correspondence is in the form of written communications, which is comfortable for the introvert, but not always the most effective way to follow up.

The extravert, on the other hand, will pick up the phone and call her new connection the next day at an appropriate time, taking one more step to securing the relationship. She will suggest another time to meet at a convenient time, perhaps for coffee. Email is too slow, in her mind; it doesn’t get immediate results.

Note: Relying on only on email will not seal the deal, so a combination of email and verbal communications is required for the introvert to succeed.

5. The interview. The introvert prepares well for the interview. He has done his research on the position and company, as well as the industry. The difficult questions will not surprise him because of his preparation. He is reflective and this will come through during the interview. However, he may come across as too reflective, not spontaneous enough.

The extravert, on the other hand is all about spontaneity. He is outgoing, gregarious, and feels comfortable making small talk. The introvert can benefit from his extraverted side by adopting these traits. He must also remember to smile and show enthusiasm.

Note: This is the most important stage of the job search; therefore, it’s important that the introvert calls on her extraverted traits. Most interviewers are drawn to outgoing, confident candidates, which come through easily for the extravert.

The introvert/extravert make a good team. For some introverts, all of this is easier said than done. However, she must call upon her extraverted attributes. On the introvert/extravert spectrum, lying closer to the center makes the transitions easier; lying closer to the extreme makes the transitions more difficult.

Photo: Flickr, Ewa Henry

Four things you can do to keep your clients out of their “panic zone”

Jim2Guest writer, Jim Peacock, writes about the stretch zone, which is between the comfort and freak out zones. This resonated with me; the fact that we need to take action and not fear failure…rather expect it.

Get out of your comfort zone.” We’ve all heard this but some people think that there is only one zone beyond “comfort” and they call it “panic” or “freakout”.  Bryan Murphy who recently took a seminar from me explains to his students that there are actually three zones to think about.

Comfort zone, where no learning takes place. People are complacent here and often go through the motions that they are doing something.

Freakout or panic zone, again, where no learning takes place. When you freakout, you shut down, not much good is going to happen here.

But what lies in between is the key. In between comfort and panic is a zone that Bryan calls the stretch zone. This is where learning can happen.

Read more…

The single best advice for the job search and 9 steps to follow in one day

Sitting on a benchYou’re probably thinking this post is about networking. Nah, I’m actually tired of talking about networking. Or you might think this is about writing a résumé recruiters are dying to read. Nope. Maybe you think this post is about the 10 essential elements of your LinkedIn profile. Done topic.

So what is this advice for the job search?

In my career center orientation I tell my attendees that if they leave with any bit of advice from me, it’s to get out of the house. That’s it. Get out of the house. This isn’t earth shattering advice, but it’s probably the advice many people need to heed. (Read this post about getting out the house.)

I hear all too often that some jobseekers sleep in until 10:00 a.m. I haven’t done that since adolescence. I also hear they know every episode of General Hospital and have learned from Dr. Phil the 14 traits of a serial killer. Some tell me they’ve scoured the Internet for jobs and spend six hours a day blasting out their résumés, resulting in very few interviews.

So, you ask, where should I go? I wouldn’t be a giver of advice without providing some plan detailing what to do once you’re out of the house. Here is an example of one day, the start of your official job search.

1. Get up at 6:00 a.m. and drink your two cups of coffee. Take care of nature calling. Don your shorts, holey tee-shirt, and new sneakers. (You bought them as a condition of landing your next job.) Leave the house for your 30-minute walk, or jog. Start with baby steps.

2. Clean the dishes when  you get back from your walk, which you found invigorating both physically and mentally. Breakfast is optional. Leave the house at 8:00 a.m. But don’t forget the PB&J sandwich you made for lunch.

3. Arrive at your local library and set the timer on your watch for one hour. Sit in a comfortable chair and write your to-do list for the day. It will include the activities starting with step four.

After you’ve finished your list, grab the nearest computer and sign in to LinkedIn. Write the following update: “Today is the first day of my job search. I’m looking forward to achieving success. If you are with me, ‘Like’ this update.” You’ll receive “Likes” from your true connections and perhaps some, “I’ll let you know if I hear of anything.”

4. Drive to your nearest career center to attend a workshop on Résumé Writing. While listening to someone like me talk about writing a résumé even recruiters will love, quietly ask the person next to you what her occupation is.

“Accountant,”  you say. “I’m a marketing specialist from the financial industry. Would you like to grab coffee afterward and compare notes?” (I lied about not mentioning résumés and networking.)

5. After your brief chat at a coffee house around the corner, walk to a nearby park where you can score a bench. Eat the PB&J sandwich you made at home. Take in the scenery while you eat your sandwich slowly. Make yourself to sit for a complete half an hour before you’re off to your next location.

You are acutely aware that feelings of anxiety are not present, because you are being productive. Productivity, you find, is a good thing.

Oh, text your wife with the following message: “(Insert salutation. Honey works well.) My first day on the search is going very well. Feeling productive. I’ll cook tonight.”

6. At 1:30 p.m. drive to a church 20 minutes away where a networking group meets. (You learned about this group from your new connection from the workshop.) Because it’s your first session, you’ll be required to deliver your value statement. Apologize for not preparing one; but don’t worry, the kind folks will give you guidance.

Listen to the guest speaker speak on his Candidate Pet Peeves. Note that he dislikes it when people don’t look him in his eyes, among other irritants the speaker mentions. Most of what he says if obvious, but it’s good to be reminded of the obvious.

7. At 4:00 p.m. drive to your local Starbucks, purchase a Tall ice coffee with light ice and cream only, and grab a comfy chair next to an outlet. Plug in your computer and dial into a job board you prefer.

Note that there are 10 job posts for marketing specialist, three in the financial industry. Also note that there are 15 job posts for Accountants. This is great labor market information for you and your new connection for when you meet her at the career center for an interview workshop.

8. At 5:00 p.m. refer to your to-do list and congratulate yourself for meeting 80% of today’s objectives. You were a bit optimistic about what you could do. That’s okay, you can pick up where you left off tomorrow.

Text your wife and tell her you’re on your way home to cook pork tenderloin on the grill. Ask if you should pick up vegetables and perhaps a bottle of wine–it was a good day.

9. After dinner you can settle in for the night. When your wife asks you if tomorrow you will cut the lawn and paint the garage, apologize and tell her now that you’re in the job search you won’t have time to do chores like that. However, during the weekend you’ll do as many chores as she’d like.

Tomorrow is another day to get out of the house. Which activities you choose to do is up to you. Perhaps following up with people you’ve met at the career center, creating your company target list, spending a couple hours revising your résumé, attending another networking group….The possibilities are endless. The important thing is that you’re getting out of the house.

4 ways to break down your time in the job search

There’s been speculation as to how jobseekers should segment their time for the job search. Some embrace the idea of dedicating a certain amount of time to their job search methods; They have a well-devised plan.

Others don’t give much thought to how they’ll spend their time and energy on the search. This can be a mistake.

Having guidelines, whether you adhere to them or occasionally drop the ball, provide objectives which are necessary to achieve your goals. The job search is not an exact science, however you need a guideline to give yourself direction. Consider the following way of segmenting your job search into job-search methods.

60% Networking related activities

The Department of Labor has stated that at least 60% of jobs are gained through networking, and most pundits would agree that networking is the best use of your time. However, some people have the misconception that attending networking events only constitutes connecting with people who can be of mutual help.

Networking should be a daily event that comes about naturally, such as during family gatherings, on the sidelines of a soccer game, while getting your hair colored, in the grocery store, etc. You must prepared to present yourself in a favorable manner at all times; first impressions count. Read this article to learn about networking naturally.

Note: Awhile back, Lou Adler, expert recruiter and author of The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired, wrote an article for LinkedIn in which he states networking should constitute 60% of your job search. 

20% LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the best way to network online, period. Facebook and Twitter are great media for communicating real-time, but serious business people and jobseekers use LinkedIn on a regular basis with great success.

I only suggest 20% percent because putting more effort into LinkedIn can make you complacent, believing that it’s a replacement for personal networking. It isn’t! LinkedIn is a great supplement for personal networking.

Once you’ve developed connections on LinkedIn, it’s time to reach out to them and touch them in a personal way: meet with them in person, talk on the phone (if they’re long distance), and at the very least communicate via e-mail. Read this article to find out how.

10% Job Postings/Researching Companies

Estimates for success using this method to search for work only range from 4-10%, according to the well-known Richard Bolles, *What Color is Your Parachute.  The image of jobseekers hunched over their computer mechanically zipping résumés into the clouds depresses me.

Why not develop a list of companies for which you’d like to work, follow their progress (or lack thereof), and send a nicely crafted approach letter (which indicates your interest in a possible positions) to the companies that show movement? Or better yet, call them.

Let’s adjust this figure. Spend 5 percent of your time playing the lottery by sending out your generic résumé that most likely will be lost in companies’ huge databases; spend the other 5 percent doing your research and composing introductory letters or making phone calls that will garner greater success.

10% Agency/3rd Party Recruiters

This figure assumes you use agencies or 3rd party recruiters. Some of us stiffs, perhaps more than one would think, don’t use recruiters due to the industry in which we work. So this 10 percent can be thrown out the window for people who haven’t even run across a recruiter.

On the other hand, if you are in an industry where working with recruiters is the norm and you demand a high salary, this figure seems a bit low. Richard Bolles gives this method of job search a 5 to 28 percent chance of success if used alone, taking into consideration the salary requirements of the jobseekers.

Put it in action

I’ve heard pundits claim that creating a weekly schedule to follow is fruitless. I disagree. Having a schedule to follow on a consistent basis gives you structure and objectives toward an attainable goal.

Let’ say you’ll spend 30 hours a week to conduct your job search—a good number, I think, as you’ll want time for other important things in your life. Of those 30 hours you’ll spend 18 combined hours on networking activities, only 3 or 4 of those hours attending networking groups; 6 hours on LinkedIn; and 3 hours online and recruiters.

Of course your plan may be derailed for one reason or another–Uncle Al blows into town. You don’t have time to attend the third networking event of the week. No sweat, get back on track the next week and stick to the theoretical schedule. The most important thing is that you are proactive in your job search, not spending 30 hours a week sending your résumé into the dark void.

*Bolles wrote this way back in 2011, but I think it still holds true.

The 12 types of job-search networkers; the good and the bad

Networking blackWhen you work at an urban career center, you come into contact with many different personalities. The customers that stick in your mind are the ones who not only help themselves, but also look out for others. In other words, they help their peers without being asked.

One gentleman who I speak of often in my workshops is a guy named John who worked at Brooks Automation. He was laid off and attended my workshops. He took it upon himself to create a networking group that grew in popularity, and he ran it like a pro. When he landed his next job, I was happy and sad. Happy that he landed a job; sad that the group eventually dissolved.

John exemplified one type of networker, the Giver. He gave his time and energy to help other jobseekers, knowing what goes around comes around. Here are the 12 types of networkers:

  1. The Outgoing (Good) — Never out of energy and always interacting with others around them, this networker is often popular and a magnet to others. People feel his energy; it gives them energy. (Don’t assume this person is an extravert; introverts can be outgoing, as well.) When he leaves the group, people take notice and wish him a good night.
  2. The Shy (Bad) — On the other hand is the shy person who comes across as a snob or aloof. He’d rather stand in a corner watching others interact. This is not his venue; he won’t stay long. (Don’t assume this person is an introvert; extraverts can be shy, as well.) When he leaves no one notices his departure. He’s a ghost.
  3. The Face-to-Face Person (Good) — She loves personal networking because she enjoys being with people. You’ll see her at every event until she’s landed a job, and she’ll return to the group to talk about her Happy Landing. She also networks in the community with whomever she can, realizing that anyone could offer her a lead.
  4. The Online Person (Bad) — Using LinkedIn exclusively is her idea of networking. She sees connecting with others and sending direct messages as the only way to network, but she’s mistaken. One must also make a personal connection to cement a relationship.
  5. The Giver (Good) — Like John, this person understands the true nature of networking. When he helps someone by providing a lead, he will get help from someone else. He creates good karma for himself. He is a maven, someone who knows about every industry and occupation, and he has contacts at many companies.
  6. The Taker (Bad) — He thinks only of himself and never of others. Just taking is a good way to alienate himself from the people with whom he networks. He doesn’t understand why people stop helping him because he’s wrapping up in his own battle. He expects people to have leads for him but doesn’t think of offering other jobseekers leads.
  7. The Listener (Good) — She is one of the favorite people in the room. Always asking questions and listening intently. She remembers previous conversations and brings them up, making people feel special. She is a great conversationalist. Unfortunately people may take advantage of her good nature and talk “at” her all night.
  8. The Talker (Bad) — This person believes that the room is his stage and those around him are receptacles for his words. People have a hard time getting away from him unless they have an escape plan. He is exhausting and gains few followers. In the community he drives people away from his company, unwilling to listen to people who could help him.
  9. The Doer (Good) — He is someone who will attend networking events despite being tired after a long day of work. The extravert and introvert alike will attend networking events, or meet up with a group of networkers, or connect with people in the community. They are active yet tactful in the way they network.
  10. The Non-Doer (Bad) — You’ll see this person at a few networking events and then he’ll drop off the face of the earth. After trying a few events and not getting immediate gratification, he’ll decide networking is not for him and abandon it. It’s a shame, as he may have potential.
  11. The Finisher (Good) — In soccer we call this a player who puts the ball across the goal line. In networking this person follows up with the people he meets at events and in the community. He keeps business cards and calls the people within 24 hours, 48 hours at the most. And he maintains contact with the people who can be of mutual assistance.
  12. The Buzz Kill (Bad) — We know what a buzz kill is. No more needs to be said. In networking he’s the person who doesn’t follow up with potential connections. Relationships die before they begin. Business cards lie in his drawer, piling up like a deck of playing cards.

In contrast to John, I’ve come across networkers who are in it only for themselves. Although it’s natural to want immediate gratification, it’s far more noble and productive to help your brethren, as your efforts will be returned in due time. There are other types of networkers, such as the positive and negative attitudes. As I say in my workshops, we’re more likely to help those who appear positive than those who appear negative. They all agree.

Talk more; 5 reasons why your job search and performance at work require it

This article contrasts one I wrote on talking too much. What’s the balance many, including I, wonder?

We’ve all been in the presence of people who don’t talk much, if at all. It can be frustrating or downright agonizing, particularly if you’re sharing a car ride with them or at a party or working beside them. As uncomfortable it is for you, the consequences for the dead-silence types can be devastating to their job search and occupation.

I’ll be the first to admit that making small talk is not my forté, but I do all right when the moment calls for it. I’m better at asking questions to draw out information from anyone without sounding like a CIA interrogator.

I often wonder about the times I talk too little, why a failure to communicate comes over me. The reason for this, I believe, is lack of confidence and a touch of insecurity. I’m an articulate person. I might commit a misnomer here and there or forget what I was going to say, but for the most part I can communicate my thoughts and ideas.

I wrote about the opposite end of the spectrum, people who talk too much—a documented disability in some cases—and the effect it has on their job search and ability to function at work. I also believe that people who fail to talk at crucial moments hurt their chances in their job search and at work. Below are five areas where people must talk.

Networking—In your job search, networking in social settings, at networking events, and professional meetings; demonstrating your verbal communication skills is essential to success. People need to know what you want to do, what skills you possess, and the accomplishments you have under your belt.

Networking is a daily activity that permeates every aspect of our life. We network for the best mechanics, baby-sitters, great restaurants, and more. Networking to find a job obviously serves a different purpose than finding a trustworthy mechanic, but in all cases you have a goal which can only be accomplished through effective communications.

Telephone Interviews—First rule: don’t assume the telephone interview is only a screening, where you’ll only have to answer questions about your technical skills and salary expectations. They’ve become increasingly similar to face-to-face interviews. My jobseekers have been through multiple phone interviews—behavioral-based included—before a final face-to-face.

When you leave your contact information on voice mail, also include your personal commercial as something that will set you apart. You’re interested in the position and feel you’re the right person for the job because 1) you have the necessary experience, 2) meet all the requirements, 3) have job-related skills, and 4) the big one…you have quantified accomplishments that prove what you can do for the employer. Don’t be surprised if the hiring manager answers the phone; it happens, so be ready to talk.

Interviews—If you don’t talk, they won’t hear you. This is where your confidence must be abundantly clear. If you want to pretend you’re on stage, fine. This is your greatest performance. Preparation is the key. You know that you have to understand the job and company inside and out; but there is one other thing you have to know by heart…your résumé. Knowing your résumé will help you talk about yourself, particularly if you wrote it yourself.

Some of my jobseekers admit that they like an interview where they don’t have to talk. Letting the interviewer do all the talking is fine with them. It’s a good sign, they tell me. Wrong. Letting the interviewer talk non-stop prevents you from getting your key points into the conversation. How will they know you, if you don’t talk?

Meetings—You’ve secured a job. Your willingness to talk is just as important as when you were looking for a job. Employers like those who appear confident and who can engage. Have you ever been to a meeting where a group of people—not necessarily introverts, but more likely—never talk. Afterward they’ll approach a colleague and express their feelings about the topics covered, but not during the meeting. Why, I ask you?

Don’t rely on meeting leaders to ask for your opinion if you’re remaining silent. I’m sure you have great ideas, so why not express them. One person in my MBTI workshop said that all the extraverts talk over everyone. First of all, I don’t see that as a common practice. Second, fight back. That’s it, raise your voice to show you’re not timid; you can talk and have great ideas. The meeting leader will appreciate this.

Promotions, Special Requests—Nancy Ancowitz, Self-Promotion for Introverts, writes, “All too often, introverts get passed over for job offers and promotions while more extroverted colleagues get all the recognition….” I’m not saying that introverts are deficient and require help. But as an introvert, I tend to like writing more than speaking, because I express my ideas clearer on paper.

However, when it is required to use your verbal voice, such as following up on an e-mail about scheduling a special meeting for that company-paid training, you have to be on. You have to be psyched up for the moment; and even if you’re sweating, your stomach aches, you want to jump out of your skin, you still have to use the verbal communication skills that have been latent since you earned the job.

Where’s the balance? Talking too much can be detrimental to your success. We know people who make our minds go numb from their incessant babbling. They make us want to run in the opposite direction. But there are also those who don’t talk, which as you’ve seen can sabotage a job search and performance at work. There is a balance between the overly loquacious and the utterly dead silent. There are extravert types who can listen as well as they talk and introvert types who can talk as well as they listen. You know people like this, so emulate them…for the sake of your career.